Σάββατο, 14 Δεκεμβρίου 2013

Christ in Today's Day and Age: The Same Yesterday, Today & Forever (Heb. 13:8) CHRISTMAS ENCYCLICAL By Metropolitan Sotirios



Jesus Christ is always the same: yesterday, today and forever. He is unchanging. True God. Creator. Preserver and Governor of the world. He Himself never changes. Through Christ, though, the world is changed and transformed - and indeed must change and be transformed in and through Him.
Once again, we celebrate the Birth in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. We celebrate and commemorate His birth as a human being. His incarnation:  God coming to us by taking flesh of the Ever-Virgin Mary and being born as man. As God, He is begotten of the Father before all ages. It is difficult for us to perceive and understand this. He was and is True God, but He was also born on earth as a human being.  He united His divine nature with our human nature, becoming “Theanthropos”:  the God-Man, who came to us for only one reason: to save us and all humanity. As St. Athanasios taught:  “God became man, so that we could become gods by grace!”  Christ received our human nature in order to raise it up to the heavens -  to Paradise. In order to sanctify and deify it.
He was born humbly in Bethlehem.  People did not recognize Him. No one showed Him any hospitality. Seeking refuge at the inn, the inn-keeper closed the door on Him. In all of this, He never once complained. He was born in the flesh in a cave reserved for animals.
In today's day and age, do people recognize Him for who He is? One-third of humanity claims to be Christian. We who are named Christians must ask ourselves: do we recognize Him as our Saviour, as our Lord and our God?  Do we live a Christian life? Unfortunately, many do not live a life in Christ. Their works prove the opposite is true and, therefore, the name of Christ - even Christ Himself - is mocked and vilified. 
Two-thirds of humanity are not Christians. They follow erroneous paths and spiritual journies or philosophies that were created by mistaken religious leaders, atheists, false prophets, pseudo-philosophers, selfish and egotistical teachers of all kinds of couterfeit spiritualities and humanists who want to dethrone God and place themselves on His rightful throne.
All these false teachings and crooked spiritual paths have led most of their followers to the unhappiness that prevails in today's world. Along with this despair and this “me first” attitude that prevails, the sad results have been today’s financial crisis in the world, fanaticism, terrorism, wars, unethical teachings, immoral vices and so many other sad realities that should not exist. 
Are we content and happy with the state in which our world is in today? How can we be? Every day, the mass media reports on the tragic state of affairs around the world. Who is affected by this sad state of affairs around us?  Is it Christ? Let us remember that Christ is Unchangable. Untouchable. No one can challenge Him or change Him. Therefore, it is we humans who suffer the consequences of this sad state of affairs in the society and the world around us.
All of us seek and desire peace, prosperity, hapiness and joy; yet, we cannot find it, because we may have taken a wrong path in life.  The path that leads to prosperity, peace and joy is only one: it is the path and the journey to Christ that He Himself taught us by example. As God, He taught us that: "I Am the Truth, the Way and the Life." He was, is and always will be the Truth, the Way and the Life for all people.
We celebrate the Nativity of Christ once again this year. He comes to the door of our hearts and knocks so we may open the door for Him and invite Him to enter and abide with us. Will we? He will not break down the door to enter our hearts and our souls uninvited. He respects our freedom and He waits for us to invite Him in. Yet, as long as He is made to wait outside, it is we who suffer and become cold and frigid, denying ourselves the warmth and joy of His love.
I ask all of you - young and old, rich and poor, healthy and sick, Christians and non-Christians - to open your hearts to the Prince of Peace. Open your hearts to the True God and Saviour. Open your hearts to the personification of Love - to the One who is True Love,  Jesus Christ the Lord.  If you do, you will surely live a new life, a life in abundance.  You will feel that you are embraced by the warm and fervent love of God, and not by the coolness and frostiness of today's hostile and impersonal society.
I hope and pray that the Peace, the love and the warmth of Christ will abundantly fill your souls and the souls of all humanity with His Presence -  so that true peace may embrace all of humanity and reign over all;  so that together, helping each other, we may progress towards eternal life and blessedness in His Kingdom. Towards our complete unity with God. Towards our participation in the infinite and eternal glory, blessedness and love of God – who comes to us “as a new Child, the pre-eternal God!” 

With fatherly love and fervent prayers in the New-Born Christ,

 Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto
Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Canada

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